Archive Monthly Archives: June 2013

700 Steps & 7 Miles

OK, not exactly sure how many steps it takes for me to walk from my office to my parking garage but I love every step! And the seven miles accurately describes my commute from work to our new home.

I don’t mean to gloat but I’ve had an absolutely fabulous work week. Things are progressing nicely on our home and just as quickly things are progressing in my career. A study came out this week that said that 70% of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. As I walked to my car last night, I realized just how lucky I am to be one of the 30%. I love what I do and where I work and wanted to share my view of the world through a commute home.

When I leave the office, the friendly security guard who knows me as Glasses because of my funky frames gives me a wave. “You have a good night now Glasses!” It’s sunny and humid in Cambridge but there is always a refreshing breeze off the river. Kayakers are casting off from the dock for an evening cruising the River Charles.

photophoto (1)Occasionally I’ll avoid the Longfellow Bridge for a scenic drive through Cambridge and then around to the Callahan Tunnel. Leaving Kendall Square on a summer evening isn’t easy with the farmers market in full swing and live bands performing in Technology Square for tourists, MIT students, and us office workers.

photo (3)Picture1But just 30 seconds away from this hustle and bustle and I’m on the quiet shady streets of Cambridge neighborhoods. The streets are virtually bare of cars but the foot traffic is in full swing as moms take kids to the nearby playgrounds and yuppies ride their bikes home from the grocery store.

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I tap the brakes past this church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, every time. It’s a grand and detailed building with lively flamingo red doors nestled among the old row houses and shingled multi-families.

photo (4)Through the Callahan Tunnel and over the Belle Isle Bridge I arrive in Winthrop. By the yacht club, I look back on the town I just left knowing how lucky I am to love what I do but also love what I come home to every night.

Picture2Are you one of the 30% who love their jobs? If not, please don’t waste a minute!

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Stairway to Heaven

Remember this?

8680360251_82afa9a827_oThis staircase has so much potential. Especially this lovely newel. Yes, newel. That’s a new word in my vocabulary. Did you know these central poles on a staircase are called newels?

newelWe believe this staircase and the lovely newels are original to the house. They just happen to have about 50 layers of paint on them. But a heat gun should do the trick. As for the stairs, they are not salvageable. We knew pretty early on we’d have to replace every tread. But after that, we hope to have a grand staircase with dark wood treads and banisters and bright white risers and NEWELS!

Something like…

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Painting USA

With dry plaster on the walls the next step is a whole lotta priming and painting! Per usual, we’re doing this ourselves. But painting every room of a three story house could make us professionals. We’ve already got a rhythm with Jared rolling and me cutting in around any edges.

To make life a little easier, Jared purchased a Wagner Cordless Roller and we love it. The long handle helps with our high ceilings and doubles as large-capacity tube where the paint is stored. With just a push of a button, the tube sends paint into the roller for a smooth and continuous paint flow. If this was an infomercial, this is when they’d show people breaking their backs bending over to load paint on their old-fashioned rollers. Ouch! But not with the turbo roller!

The cleaning process is a bit of a, well, process but we think the benefit is there. It does save time and our backs!

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Disclosure: This review is not sponsored by Wagner. I have no material relationship to any brand or person mentioned in this blog.

Come & Knock on Our Door…

…we’ve been waiting for you! Another song title blog post now stuck in your head. You’re welcome.

Anyways… this past weekend we went door shopping. It’s kind of an odd thing to feel so strongly about but Jared and I were dead set on a couple of things when it came to our interior doors.

  1. Jared must have solid core doors. He had some terrible things to say about hollow core doors. Like f-bombs and everything. I almost felt bad for the hollow core doors after a while.
  2. Julie hates six panel doors. I wanted nothing to do with them. And they were everywhere! Looking all ridiculous with their six panels! A four panel or two panel looked so much more casual and unpretentious. Yes, I just called six panel doors snobs.
  3. Jared and Julie both want to paint our interior doors black. This got some serious backlash from a certain Aunt on Saturday night but she might be coming around!

Here’s my thing with the black doors. I know that most homes have stained wooden doors and a lot of new construction have white doors but trust me on the black door thing! It’s a rich, bold look. The bedroom and bathroom doors can be white on the inside but look at the impact a hall has with all black doors.

doors 1doors 2doors 3doors 4doors 5And these are the actual doors we purchased. Pre-primed ready for some black paint!

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Getting Plastered!

Every night last week felt like Christmas morning. I would leave the office and race to the house knowing that a transformation was waiting there for me. Room by room, our walls were getting plastered. White, smooth, beautiful plaster!

If you thought insulation and blue board was exciting, check out this fabulous phase. Per usual, these are the same views day one, after demo, with insulation, and today.

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View in Dining Room looking into Living Room

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View in Kitchen looking at sink & basement door

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View in Kitchen looking at Front Door

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Ice Cream Man

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I don’t know about you but that high pitched squeal of Do Your Ears Hang Low permeating through the neighborhood on a hot summer day does not fill me with excitement and glee. Oh no. It’s outright panic and anxiety!

Remember that feeling when you were little? “Mooooom!! I need a dollar NOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!” It was the worst feeling in the world! And your mom was always like in the basement doing laundry and couldn’t find her change purse and then there was this horrifying feeling that you were going to be the only kid on the whole street that didn’t get an ice cream!

My heart is racing just thinking about it.

But this isn’t a tragic story from childhood. This is a fabulous story about my husband and how he made my day last week. It was a hot day and I was putting a coat of polyurethane on the third floor guest room. I heard that infamous Do Your Ears Hang Low tune and just kept on rolling. A minute later I hear Jared coming up the stairs- “You missed the ice cream man!” “I know!” I said. And then he appeared with two tasty treats- “But I didn’t!” It was probably my favorite moment of the entire summer. Because you really can’t beat a bomb pop and your hubs in your new home on a warm summer afternoon.

We’re entering into an exciting stage of this renovation this weekend. All walls should be plastered and we can work on little projects and lots of painting!

Hope your weekend is filled with fun times and cool treats!

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The Great Countertop Debate

Jared and I have gone around and around when it comes to countertops. Our three big contenders have been marble, granite, and butcher block. Though we have come to a final conclusion, I thought I’d outline some of the pros and cons to all three materials and provide some pretty design inspiration as well.

MARBLE

No one can argue it- marble countertops are classically beautiful. Marble is also a naturally cool stone which is wonderful for working with dough. It’s a known favorite among pastry chefs. While it’s widely available, some rarer types and purer whites can be difficult to find in large slabs and therefore much more expensive. A large disadvantage (especially if you choose a light colored stone) is marble’s ability to stain. Red wine, fruits, and coffee are infamous for leaving indelible stains on marble.

Picture1Picture2Picture3Picture4GRANITE

Granite countertops are everywhere! With the rise in popularity in the 90s, you can find granite in almost every renovated kitchen for the last 20 years. And for good reason! Granite countertops don’t depreciate in value and will add value to a home. The biggest advantages I see are it’s ability to take the heat of a pan and the fact that it’s completely sanitary and easy to clean. But as for disadvantages, patterns in granite can be quite busy for my taste and a sample is often not the best representation of the slab.

Picture5Picture6Picture7BUTCHER BLOCK

I personally love the look of butcher block countertops. I love the warmth they bring to a kitchen- an often cold, sterile room. Butcher block that is sealed properly is easy to clean and will last with a regular rubbing of food-safe mineral oil. Avoid cutting directly on butcher block or placing hot pans directly on the surface of the wood as they will leave burn marks. Water damage is a concern with wood however, a mineral oil or other protectant should stop any discoloring or seepage into seams.

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Hitting the Bottle

Going through a large scale renovation can drive a person to drink!

Recently, this beautiful warm weather has made me miss all the carefree vineyard trips that Jared and I made in Virginia. Virginia is often included in the top 10 of wine-producing states but Massachusetts doesn’t even crack the top 20. There are however, a number of famous breweries in the Bay State. After all, if it wasn’t for beer the Pilgrims would have never stopped here at Plymouth Rock.

You think I’m joking? It’s a well known fact that the Mayflower’s crew was running low on beer and if they didn’t drop off their passengers in Plymouth, Massachusetts it would have been a long, sober voyage home.

Then in 1637, a Charlestown Captain named Sedgewick was given the very first license to brew beer for the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. By the early 20th century, Boston was home to 27 breweries and today the entire state boasts just under 2,000!

Today I wanted to highlight my three favorites. Why not? It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? And just in case you only gave your dad a stupid necktie for Father’s Day, make it up to him with a trip to one of these breweries for a cold one…

I’d say the most famous beer in New England (and maybe the country!) has to be Samuel AdamsSam Adams started in 1984 as the Boston Beer Company. That funny fella you see in all the commercials is Jim Koch, a sixth-generation brewer. In 1998, the old brewery in Jamaica Plain was turned into a museum and their R&D facility where they come up with all those flavors!

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Then there’s the good old Boston Beer Works. Not as much history here. They’ve only been around since 1992. But with great flavors like Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale and Old Ironsides, it seems like a classic to me. With seven locations around Boston and the North Shore, it’s one of my absolute favorites. Especially the Salem location for a Pumpkin Beer in the fall!

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Another Boston favorite is the Harpoon Brewery. Three college buddies started this one in 1986 and was the first commercially brewed and bottled beer in Boston since 1964. Their new Beer Hall in the South End is a happening place to be! Jared and I were there last month with my cousin Alex and his wife Sara for a couple pints. The industrial feel, large chunky wood bar, and oversize saloon chandeliers were right up my alley. If you can’t go on off hours, expect to wait in line outside for a while but good company and the promise of a Pale Ale makes it all worth it!

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Abracadabra!

Now watch closely… nothing up our sleeves… abracadabra, a linen closet! That’s right, we decided to use our extra blue board on the second floor hallway and as the wall came down, a closet appeared as if from nowhere!

It was most likely a closet for the master bedroom that someone once covered over. Opening it from the hallway turns it into the perfect linen closet directly across from the bathroom!

We had factored some open storage into the bathroom but to have an extra closet is always a bonus. I know that I’m so overly organized to the point of compulsive that I can keep an open shelved linen closet neat as a pin. But- even I admit there are some things that just shouldn’t be on display, i.e. bulk toilet paper, diapers (eventually!), etc. But even though they’re not the prettiest linen closet items, they should still be stored efficiently. So here are my Martha Stewart approved (I hope!) organizing tips…

I’m sure I didn’t coin the term “Merge Purge” but that’s really my motto for cleaning and organizing. Like items together and keep nothing that you don’t use or love.

For me, the purge part is simple and I do it on a regular basis. Haven’t used this hair crimper since the 80’s- boom! In the trash! These hand towels have seen better days- Salvation Army bin here I come! I know some people have a really hard time parting with things but they’re just things! Don’t think about it! Do you use it? Do you love it? If the answer is no to both- get it out of your house!

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Now in terms of the merge part- I like to keep certain items that you might need together corralled in a basket or caddy so it’s easy to take everything you need out of the linen closet in one step. Like this one for laundry day.

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I know I’m one of the few but I do know how to fold a fitted sheet. And once you do that, place the flat sheet on top and store them both in the matching pillow case. That way all your sets are conveniently in one bundle!

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This is how I roll! I don’t know about you but I always loved the spa-like look of rolled towels so that’s how I store mine- rolled and stacked.

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Whether it’s utilitarian plastic bins or pretty glass vases, use clear containers so you can see at a glance what you have and when you need to restock. I like to put my makeup brushes in coffee beans so the dark colors don’t brush up against the light ones. Plus, the smell always perks me up in the morning!

Picture1And for unsightly items, I’ll use baskets or canvas bins but always labeled.

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Be Our Guest!

Well not really. No seriously, we don’t have a working shower yet. You can’t stay in our guest room! But it is almost done!

After all that sanding, there was unfortunately a thin coat of sawdust on my freshly painted walls. But a big sponge and a bucket of water took care of that. Then we rehung the troll doors which got a coat of white paint and satin nickel spray for the hardware.

After two coats of clear polyurethane, the floors are almost perfect. It will take another coat of poly with a brush to get the right consistency. The floors are so old, the wood is just soaking up the polyurethane and it’s splotchy in places. But once we do that, I can at least call one room done!

See what a difference paint and poly can make?

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